Former Senate President, and candidate of the All-Progressives Congress, APC in the March 18, 2023, governorship election in Delta State, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, has picked holes in Friday’s judgement of the state Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed the victory of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori. A unanimous judgement by the three-man tribunal headed by Chibuzo Ahuchaogu, struck out Omo-Agege’s petition for lack of merit.
In a personally signed statement, titled “Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal’s Judgement: An Appeal for Calm, As We Continue to Pursue Our Case and Cause”, Senator Omo-Agege lamented that the outcome of the legal challenge “is not what we expected”. He however appealed to his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, confident that the judgement, which he described as “grave injustice”, would “not stand the appellate scrutiny”.
In an earlier statement signed by Sunny Areh, his media adviser, the former deputy senate president had picked holes in the judgement, arguing that the tribunal failed to reckon with “the fundamental flaws” in the election, which he insisted “mortally rendered the declaration of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner untenable”.
In his follow-up statement, Omo-Agege insisted that in reaching its judgement, “the Tribunal in Asaba, in our respectful view, failed to avert its mind to the intendment of the plethora of unambiguous innovations now contained in the Electoral Act, 2022”.
According to him, “In relation to the instant petition, these are most particularly evident in sections 137 and 73(2) and paragraph 46(4) [First Schedule) of the Act mandating the Tribunal on how to properly handle the required evidence duly placed before it by the petitioners in proof of the petition and corroborated by INEC itself.
“We hold the reasoned view that if the Tribunal dutifully attended to the unassailable evidence in support of All the polling unit results and every other relevant electoral document duly tendered before it is using our present electoral jurisprudence and benchmarks already set by the Supreme Court as its compass, today’s outcome would have been clearly in our favour”.
He said “As chief proponents of a clean electoral system, we disagree that ballots obtained in manifest breach of the Electoral Act and our Constitution are lawful and valid votes in the 2023 Delta State Governorship Election. Further, we also do not believe that the law permits the Tribunal to do nothing having found as a matter of fact and consistent with the petition that votes were arbitrarily inflated in favour of our opponents.
“Also, we do not believe that today’s judgement is in consonance with the letters and spirit of the new Act which, for the first time in our electoral history and jurisprudence, now unequivocally mandates a Tribunal to reject and cancel an election conducted at a polling unit if the serial numbers and other identities of the electoral materials used are not formally recorded into the INEC prescribed forms. We know that where this particular infraction is manifest on documentary evidence before the tribunal, the Act clearly says such must be thoroughly considered by a Tribunal and the result cancelled, as same is unlawful. This, regrettably, is not the case with the instant decision.
“So, let us be clear. For the matters mentioned herein and much more, we say with calm confidence and conviction that today’s judgment is nothing but a grave injustice that will not stand appellate scrutiny”.
This notwithstanding, Omo-Agege thanked the judges “for all they did as humans given the very toxic and intimidating environment in which they operated in the last six months” and wished them well.
Reiterating his earlier decision to test the judgement upstairs, the dissatisfied APC governorship candidate said in view of the foregoing, he had instructed his erudite legal team to immediately appeal the judgement of the Tribunal, appreciating their “steady industry and extraordinary commitment”.
Urging his loyalists to keep hope alive, Senator Omo-Agege posited that “We came into this race to rescue our beloved Delta State knowing that it will not be a smooth sail”, assuring that “With God, we shall get to our destination under His abiding grace”.